Boyfriends “pleased” by unintended pregnancies?

This is kind of terrifying. Researchers asked men and women who were trying to avoid pregnancy how they would feel if they or their partner got pregnant — whether they would be “Very upset, a little upset, a little pleased, very pleased, wouldn’t care.” The results?

Results: Staggeringly gendered! Forty-three percent of young men responded that they would be “a little pleased” or “very pleased” by the news; only 20 percent of women answered the same. Men also proved more comfortable with an unplanned pregnancy at an earlier age: Thirty-four percent of men 18-19 said they would be pleased. By the time they reach age 20-24, 42 percent of men said they would be pleased. And over 50 percent of men aged 25-29 would be pleased by the news. Remember: this is only among men who deemed it “important” that a pregnancy not occur at this junction.

Women, though, were generally less pleased — 16 percent across the board for women 18-24, 29 percent for women 25-29.

So what, exactly, is going on? Are dudes’ biological clocks just ticking faster? Is it a weird territory-marking thing? Are they just excited to know that their sperm worked, as someone suggested in the comments over at The Sexist? Is this a way for them to enter into a certain lifestyle they might want (a wife, kids, etc) without having to make serious decisions or admit they actually want it? Anyone?

Thanks to Amanda for the link.

Similar Posts (automatically generated):

Post navigation

119 comments for “Boyfriends “pleased” by unintended pregnancies?

  1. micheyd
    March 2, 2010 at 10:12 am

    But all the laydeez are scheming to trap the poor mens with babies and then they have to pay child support! /MRA

  2. PrettyAmiable
    March 2, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I would imagine it’s just because having a baby means something different to the members of a heterosexual couple. I’ve been taught since high school human growth and development that having a baby early and before I was settled in is terrifying. The media supports this: women who get knocked up and left are a common theme in movies and on TV (of the six girls on 16 and Pregnant, 1 was alone). I don’t think men would ever put that much thought into it because it’s not shoved down their throats everyday. I’m sure many would just think, “puppy.”

  3. March 2, 2010 at 10:19 am

    I think it’s the last one. Way too many men have a script they feel they have to follow about marriage and children. To actively want those things is somehow weak and a sign that you’ve been conquered by the very female you were supposed to have power over. So the idea of her getting “accidentally” knocked up is a way for them to experience that secret desire for home and family without actually admitting it. And if anyone asks them why they’re so happy, they can just deflect that his sperm is *just that potent* that even though they weren’t trying, he got her pregnant anyway.

    Yet another reason I feel that accidental pregnancy should be one of the first things that two people in a sexual relationship should discuss. If he’s not on the same page as you when it comes to “what to do” if you find yourself with an unplanned bun in the oven, then you should probably look elsewhere.

  4. MaryC
    March 2, 2010 at 10:21 am

    You know what is really sad? This story immediately made me think of the statistic that homicide is one of the leading causes of death for pregnant women (usually at the hands of a partner who doesn’t want the child). So when I read this study, I had a little moment of, “it could be worse.” What a world we live in…

  5. RMJ
    March 2, 2010 at 10:26 am

    This is just based on my social experiences and has nothing to do with Science, but what I’ve seen from the experiences of me and my friends is that men our age are MUCH more eager to commit, date seriously, settle down, etc. than women are. In the majority of het relationships I’ve seen begin, the women is in it for some good times and the man is pushing commitment.

  6. Henry
    March 2, 2010 at 10:30 am

    We tend to divorce sex from reproduction in this age. I would argue that, as much as we want to have a society based on sex solely for pleasure, there is still a biological imperative to reproduce (in other words sex is fun because it needs to be to get people to have babies). We’re the ones toying with biology here by using birth control. And from a guy’s perspective, I’d like to see a survey of women who get pregnant on purpose to keep their boyfriends.

  7. Jonathon
    March 2, 2010 at 10:44 am

    As a member of the 25 – 29 male group, you can count me in the “very upset” section. I’d initially be terrified, then worried about trying to figure out with my girlfriend what the next steps should be. We’ve talked about what we’d do if something like this happened, and we both know that we’re unprepared both from a financial and mental standpoint, so the idea of an accidental pregnancy is scary to me.

    What’s also terrifying are the major findings from the report. Though most unmarried young adults say it’s important to avoid pregnancy right now, only about 50% use contraception every time, and some forgo it altogether. Many say they have little knowledge of common contraceptive devices like condoms and the pill, and few have knowledge of less common devices. Many doubt the effectiveness of birth control.

    How has this happened? How can so many people be so ignorant of something so major?

  8. March 2, 2010 at 10:44 am

    I would avoid trying to narrow down the reason to one root cause. You end the post with a list of valid reasons why a man could be proud to have a pregnancy. I’m sure the men who would be pleased experience that reaction for all, some, or none of those reasons.

  9. Brian
    March 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I vascillate about how to guess what the social expectations of those who unplannedly get pregnant versus those who unplannedly impregnate someone. I’d find it believable the men perceive themselves to be under more pressure to not have a negative attitude towards it, but I’d find it believable the women do too.

    As noted above too, men are probably more likely to imagine an unintended pregnancy (if kept) would result in a two parent situation than women are. (I instinctively assume as much, for what it’s worth.) Which probably disposes them to be more favourable towards the idea. If not kept, it’s probably less of an inconvienance/emotional event for them then it would be for women (on average, anyhow), again disposing them to regard it more favourably.

  10. umami
    March 2, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Well, a guy can always walk away; he’ll only have child support to deal with if it doesn’t work out and that’s really not that much, compared to the cost to a woman if she ends up raising the child alone. It makes sense, if a couple are both a little ambivalent about having a child, that the man would be much less frightened of it than the woman because the man pays much less of the cost of raising a kid.

  11. Tamar bat Avraham
    March 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Henry, Thank you so much for mansplaining this “from a guy’s persepective” for us. We might never have considered the story that society likes to sell about women getting pregnant all over the place just to keep a boyfriend who doesn’t want to be there and who we know will almost certainly not stick around and have healthy relationship just because there is suddenly a baby involved.

  12. leedevious
    March 2, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Guys would probably be pleased because it means they have a new little friend to play with (when they feel like it!)

  13. Beth
    March 2, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I think that men are more pleased than women because men can always leave. If a girl got pregnant at the age of 18, her college career is almost always ruined (unless she has support from her family, the guy, etc..) but that’s always how it seems. I think that girls are more “stuck” than guys. I’m not talking for all men out there, but a few shows I have seen (16 & Pregnant, True Life….) the guys don’t fully grasp the full responsibility that comes with a new baby. The girls do. But that’s just me. I think that the girl is ultimately the one who gets stuck with most of the responsibility, therefore they are less happy about an unplanned pregnancy at an early age.

  14. leedevious
    March 2, 2010 at 11:00 am

    “And from a guy’s perspective, I’d like to see a survey of women who get pregnant on purpose to keep their boyfriends.”

    I imagine that number would be pretty small….

  15. grungemarilyn
    March 2, 2010 at 11:01 am

    @Henry– I think you have it wrong. There is nothing unnatural about the idea of birth control– people (and animals) have always been having sex for fun. And while some women may be getting “pregnant on purpose to keep their boyfriends,” these surely make up a small minority of all (supposedly mututal) unplanned pregnancies. It’s a very risky endeavor to try that, because, like umami says above, the man can leave! The baby is in the woman, and she’ll get stuck raising it if her man doesn’t want to. Males can only be parents by choice, women, not so much. Moreover, the small number of women that do this on purpose make the rest of us look bad by creating the impression that this is just something that we sneaky women are always trying to do. Stats on this would be nice, since they would show that this isn’t the case.

  16. Mykie
    March 2, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I think that men receive the idea of unplanned pregnancy well because they still look at child rearing as being the primary responsibility of the mother. If they’re going to have a child, they don’t see it affecting their lives as drastically as a woman does, so they can probably perceive it more positively. Statistics show that even men who do an equal share of the housework often stop contributing when baby #1 arrives, doing less than ever before. There are all kinds of theories about why this happens, but it seems like these two social phenomena could very well be linked.

  17. March 2, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Henry –

    And I’d like to see a survey of men who sabotage their girlfriends contraception to get them pregnant in order to keep them.

  18. AmandaS
    March 2, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Ah, Henry. Mansplaining is so darn cute. And I love how he’s here to tell us we should really only have sex in order to procreate… tell me Henry: do YOU only have sex when actively trying to concieve a child? As for me, I’ve had two kids, and I’m done with that, but at 29 I’m nowhere near done with sex. I’ll continue “toying with biology” and completely divorce sex from reproduction for the rest of my life.

  19. Lance
    March 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I am shocked by these findings.

    My preferred explanation: I think there is some pressure for men to start families– even at 26, I’ve been told that I’m selfish, irresponsible, and refusing to grow up due to my stance of never wanting kids. I’m “in the closet” about having a vasectomy at work, having concocted another explanation for why I was out of the office on surgery day and limping for a couple days after. So, some of the effect is based on what men feel they ‘should’ be doing.

    Of course, women have those same pressures, but the difference is they’re the ones who bear the bulk of the responsibility of the pregnancy and, realistically, would most likely end up being stuck taking care of it too. Whether she chooses to abort or keep the baby, she bears the medical risk. Men probably underestimate their downside and how much work it would be. So, men get the upside of society’s approval with none of the downsides.

  20. March 2, 2010 at 11:40 am

    @Martine Votvik – not meaning to spam with links to my own blog, but…

  21. The Flash
    March 2, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I don’t think it’s that men can leave– I think it’s that men can choose how much they want to be involved. Especially in an era where 40% of children are born out of wedlock, and that means they’re almsot certainly living with their moms, the dad only had to be involved as much as he wants, but in a lot of communities he gets the social status of being a father. Especially if you’re a guy who grew up with a single mom, you can say “this is an opportunity for me to do better” and step up to the plate… a little.

    Compulsory birth control pill for all highschool students, for the win!

  22. March 2, 2010 at 11:47 am

    This honestly isn’t all that surprising to me. While having a kid does affect a man’s life, it does so much less (and often much more positively) than it affects a woman. He won’t be expected to put his career on hold – if anything, he’ll be more likely to get promoted and make more money, whereas a woman who has a kid will have to take time off work and will face even more discrimination in the workplace than before. I think that for a lot of men, having a child is just part of growing into an adult, whereas for a woman it’s a completely life-changing decision. Not that it can’t be life-changing for a man as well, but they have a lot more control over what changes and what doesn’t.

  23. CBrachyrhynchos
    March 2, 2010 at 11:54 am

    I’d hesitate to read that much into it for two reasons. First, having done telephone survey research I think that getting at the beliefs and attitude behind questions is really difficult and problematic. Second, I think men are socialized to give, “of course I’m happy,” answers to these questions.

    Mighty Ponygirl’s generalization doesn’t strike me as that accurate. But most of the guys I know are entering middle-age with long-term relationships and families.

  24. March 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

    “You know what is really sad? This story immediately made me think of the statistic that homicide is one of the leading causes of death for pregnant women (usually at the hands of a partner who doesn’t want the child). So when I read this study, I had a little moment of, “it could be worse.” What a world we live in…”

    I actually think you might be on to something here. I do believe that men use pregnancy and childbirth as a means of controlling women. That’s a pretty standard belief for a lot of (most?) feminists. I can very easily see many men being pleased by an unintended pregnancy because they know that a pregnant woman or a woman who has had has child will be far likely easier to control and force into a position of subordination.

  25. capsule
    March 2, 2010 at 12:11 pm


    How has this happened? How can so many people be so ignorant of something so major?

    hey, letters were published in the paper just this past week saying that /no/ sex education should be taught in schools and should be left to the family–and from what i’ve seen the writers aren’t alone in these thoughts :(

  26. March 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    This is just too close to Darvin’s theory where he suggested the human male organism plants “seed” in as many women as he can to ascertain his masculinity. I shudder to think mean are “pleased” with surprise pregnancy because for them it’s a job well done?

  27. Henry
    March 2, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    @ Amanda, I never said women were here solely to procreate – you’re way off base there. I did offer an explanation as to why some subset of men would be (at least initially) pleased by an unintended pregnancy. As for the rest of the discussion about whether men take care of these babies etc. – it’s off topic. If you don’t like the biological reasons for human sex-drive (procreation, stable relationships) too bad. Go read a basic anthropology text (pls pick one written by a woman so you won’t be biased) – much of human behavior is (right or wrong is up to you to decide) tied to survival and reproduction. This is not a slight at women, these behaviors exist in both halves of the species. People ignore the fact that we are also animals, which can explain many bad decisions – such as 50% of couples not always using birth control, even when you can buy it at every Wal-mart in America.

  28. umami
    March 2, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    As for the rest of the discussion about whether men take care of these babies etc. – it’s off topic.

    *boggles* Thanks for being such a convenient and clear example of mansplaining! Good to know that half the thread is off topic by your estimation!

  29. Anisa
    March 2, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I think this totally has to do with the social construction of women as mothers. From the time we are born, women are socialized to become mothers one day. Furthermore, raising children is seen to be more of their personal responsibility, and as a result they are more harshly criticized for leaving/not paying attention to their children, as compared to the fathers. For example, say a woman has a baby and her and the father are in a relationship/married. When the baby (or child) is young and the father goes on a business trip, no one thinks much of it. But if a mother were to do that, everyone would think she is being a bad mother. She is expected to be with her child at all times, even if the father is not. And the example I’m using assumes that the mother is not breastfeeding, so anyone could feed the baby.

    Therefore, I think this all comes down to the pressure women face to be mothers. Fathers in general have much less pressure. Although they are pressured and criticized for leaving, it is not the same amount of pressure women face.

  30. Henry
    March 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    @Jaded16 – you hit the nail on the head, though Darwin was using a very parochial view (“seed planting”) – what he was getting near is an individual’s the drive to spread their genes, and women do it too (by having offspring from other men and raising them along with their primary mate’s offspring). Here’s some further reading:

  31. Sheelzebub
    March 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    As for the rest of the discussion about whether men take care of these babies etc. – it’s off topic.

    As is the request for a survey of women who “get pregnant on purpose to keep their boyfriends around.”

    Your focus is rather selective.

  32. Tom Foolery
    March 2, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    We’re the ones toying with biology here by using birth control.

    I personally love toying with biology. From “not having polio” to “enjoying the company of my domestic house cats,” toying with biology has dramatically improved my quality of life.

  33. Lance
    March 2, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Tom Foolery, you only say that because you’ve never known the joy of having polio. It’s different when it’s YOUR polio.

  34. March 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    “Compulsory birth control pill for all highschool students, for the win!”

    I can’t tell if you’re serious, but, no, compulsory birth control is not “for the win”. Even teenagers have the right to decide for themselves if they want to use contraception or not. No one should be forced to use contraception anymore than anyone should be forced to have a baby just because they happen to get pregnant.

    “As for the rest of the discussion about whether men take care of these babies etc. – it’s off topic.”

    It isn’t actually offtopic, IMO. It’s simply another facet of the conversation.

    “such as 50% of couples not always using birth control, even when you can buy it at every Wal-mart in America.”

    You do realize that “America” is not the world? You also realize that just because condoms are available (you do mean condoms, i hope. because anything else would require a prescription. a prescription would require a doctor’s visit. a doctor’s visit would require -money- that many people do not have), that there are also people who can not just hop in their cars and drive to Walmart whenever they want. Why? Because they don’t have cars. Or and they might not have money for gas or the condoms either.

    • March 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm

      You do realize that “America” is not the world? You also realize that just because condoms are available (you do mean condoms, i hope. because anything else would require a prescription. a prescription would require a doctor’s visit. a doctor’s visit would require -money- that many people do not have), that there are also people who can not just hop in their cars and drive to Walmart whenever they want. Why? Because they don’t have cars. Or and they might not have money for gas or the condoms either.

      Or they might not be able to tolerate hormonal birth control. Or their doctors may refuse to insert an IUD. Or they may not be in a relationship where they can negotiate condom use. Or they may believe what they learned in their sex-ed classes when they were told that condoms don’t really work anyway.

      There are a whole lot of reasons.

  35. March 2, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    You know, I can’t agree with all of the sarcastic responses here that claim that the only reasons men would be happy about an unintended pregnancy would be because they have little at stake, because they plan to have less involvement with the hard parts of parenting, or because they want to control their girlfriends/wives (!). Plenty of men would actually be happy about it. Nearly all o the guys I know would be happy with their female partners becoming pregnant, and more and more and more men I know are at least 50% involved in their children’s lives– including the ones separated from the mothers of their child(ren).

    Though most unmarried young adults say it’s important to avoid pregnancy right now, only about 50% use contraception every time, and some forgo it altogether. Many say they have little knowledge of common contraceptive devices like condoms and the pill, and few have knowledge of less common devices. Many doubt the effectiveness of birth control.

    Not everyone who chooses not to use birth control– especially the hormonal kind– are making that choice out of ignorance. Some of us don’t want things inserted into us, our hormones messed with, or seemingly never-ending discomfort caused by other methods.

    • March 2, 2010 at 1:36 pm

      Nearly all o the guys I know would be happy with their female partners becoming pregnant

      April, the survey was specifically of couples who were actively trying to avoid pregnancy. Given that fact, yeah, I do think it’s a little screwed up for boyfriends to be happy that birth control attempts failed and their girlfriends are now pregnant when they didn’t want to be.

  36. March 2, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    There’s probably multiple causes. It seems to me as well that there’s an across-the-board pressure to see pregnancy as a positive thing, but that women are more likely to have spent time considering the downsides to an unplanned pregnancy.

  37. March 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    There isn’t a biological imperative to reproduce, not really. There are reasons why so many organisms–including but so not limited to orchids, insects, every bird and mammal on this rock–put so much effort into being sexually attractive. (On average. There are individual organisms, notably asexual humans, who aren’t interested in being sexually attractive. Which doesn’t preclude an interest in being fashionable or well-put-together.) Humans worked out the connection between fucking and reproduction and built up all this oppressive bullshit around it. Everything else is just in it for the nectar, or fucking because the other animal smells really good and oh hey friction nice!

    Sex feels good so we’ll do it. It’s a trick. (It’s one of the all-time great tricks, but still.) Thinking that organisms would be concerned about reproduction and successive generations is where Lamarck and Lysenko went wrong.

    Now. You want to talk about socially contructed imperatives to reproduce, that’s a whole different thing.

  38. Henry
    March 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    If you want to get into why people do what they do, even when it seems absurd or is plainly bad for them – this sounds like it might be a good read:

  39. Cara
    March 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    @Lance *heh*

    @Henry what if we phrase it as such: biologically, babies depend more on their mothers than their fathers for survival*. so biologically potential mothers understand the burden of caring for an unexpected baby more than potential fathers. so biologically potential mothers are more likely to answer displeased.


  40. Sailorman
    March 2, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Is it a weird territory-marking thing? Are they just excited to know that their sperm worked,

    These. Seriously, I’ve heard it many times. FWIW, it’s also a strange part of the “how long it took for you to get your wife pregnant” discussion (note the odd phrasing.) Fertility is a crucial aspect of “maleness” so it’s unsurprising, even if it makes no sense in reality.

  41. Xay
    March 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I’m not shocked at all by these results. Two of my ex-boyfriends told me (after the relationships ended) that they sometimes wished I had gotten pregnant during the relationship as the ultimate symbol of what we shared. They never brought this up during the relationship, so I was horrified.

  42. me and not you
    March 2, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Why is it terrifying? It makes sense to me. Neither my husband or I want kids right now. This would be Bad. However, if I got pregnant right now, while we would be both be worried, I can guarantee you that he would be the one who was more happy about it. I would be ‘considering my options’, and he would be planning the nursery. Why? Because for me, it means my career goals will be significantly impacted (18-30 is school and career establishing time). I would probably have to drop out of school and get a ‘real’ job. The only training I have is what I’m going to grad school for, and so I would most likely end up working anywhere that will hire me. Him? He would continue doing what he’s already doing, maybe try to get a raise or angle for some overtime pay. That in and of itself is enough account for the difference, not including the physicals trials of pregnancy and birth, or any of the other differential impacts that disproportionally fall on the mother. While both our lives would change because of the baby, mine is the one that would most likely involve serious sacrifice.

    Just because he would be pleased (or more pleased than me) doesn’t mean that he would try to get me pregnant or anything nefarious like that.

  43. March 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    “Plenty of men would actually be happy about it.”


    I don’t think that anyone has said that those are the only reasons. If they did, I missed it. Sure, there are men who would just be happy about just because. But I do believe that they are likely in the minority. I believe that the matter is a lot more complicated than you are making it out to be. And, yes, I do believe that there are men who want to get women pregnant to control them. I have met them. I’m not entirely sure that the father of my children wasn’t one of them.

  44. roses
    March 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    I think it’s pretty common to be ambivalent about having children, especially as we do it later and later in life. I know I spent a number of years really wanting a baby, but feeling like I should wait until I had a steady partner, a stable career, a steady income, a house. So if you had polled me at that time, I would probably have said both that it was important to prevent pregnancy and that I would have felt pleased if I accidentally got pregnant anyway.

    I can think of two reasons why more men would have this ambivalency than women… one is that I think there’s more room for ambivalency in: “I don’t want a baby right now” than in “I don’t want to be pregnant right now”, the other is (as others have said) that she knows more of the sacrifices that come with having a baby before you’re ready will fall on her. I don’t mean that he can walk away more easily. I mean that she’ll be the one who faces the stigma of walking around with a big belly and no wedding ring, she’ll be the one who may be too groggy from 2am feedings to preform well at work the next day, she’ll likely be the one trying to stretch the grocery bill to include baby food and diapers. Things like that that she’s likely thought about because she’s watched other women go through it, and he likely hasn’t.

  45. preying mantis
    March 2, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    “because they want to control their girlfriends/wives (!)”

    You say that like reproductive coercion is a bizarro-universe thing that never happens.

  46. Kate
    March 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Are dudes’ biological clocks just ticking faster?

    I get it! This is like the “if-a-rooster-lays-an-egg-on-a-roof” joke! Men don’t have biological clocks and neither do we! :D

  47. March 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I would never be pleased if I contributed to an unwanted, unplanned pregnancy, but I admit openly that there is something weirdly satisfying about fantasizing about impregnation, but and I can’t emphasize this enough….ONLY during the act itself.

    My partner gets into the fantasy as well, but yet again, ONLY during the act itself.

  48. March 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I meant to add something. My apologies.

    I chalk it up as to one of those weird biological constructs and it exists purely in the realm of fantasy and goes no further than that.

  49. Irene M.
    March 2, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Yeah, if I earned better pay for less work, could expect more promotions cause I’m now “supporting a family,” had someone else to handle 2/3 of the housework and childcare, didn’t have to risk dying in pregnancy, and was considered a god for “babysitting” my kids every other weekend I would certainly feel a lot more secure and happy about an unplanned pregnancy.

    It’s privilege pure and simple.

  50. The Flash
    March 2, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    I… I’m sorry, I’ve been reading these comments, and… I just… WHERE EXACTLY IN THIS COUNTRY ARE WE ENCOURAGED TO SMILE ON AN UNMARRIED COUPLE HAVING AN UNPLANNED CHILD? Young people who aren’t married and weren’t planning on having children are mooooooortified when the woman gets pregnant. Can we please eschew empty-headed relativism about how “some people are happy about X”? The ideas that some guys might have about whether they *would* be happy about the unplanned pregnancy are in no way reflective of the reality that prevails outside of sensationalized Massachusetts towns (pregnancy pact for the win!) when a young couple has an unplanned pregnancy. Having known people who’ve gone through this, I promise you, the people in the situation know it’s a disaster.

    Henry, you’re an idiot. Evolutionary psychology might form the basis for subconscious impulses towards certain feelings, but it is never the reason offered for why someone feels a certain way– none of these guys are saying “Yeah! She got pregnant! DNA passage for the win!” People plan. Even stupid people plan. Even really irresponsible people will,a t least sometimes, ponder the consequences of their actions. there’s a conscious logic that’s operating side-by-side with the evolutionary impulses, and that conscious logic is worth diagnosing instead of throwing up our hands and reducing everything to a biological determinism that is antithetical to the feminist project.

  51. March 2, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I think a lot of the reasons people have given probably contain some truth, but shouldn’t we exercise some caution as to whether the men surveyed were actually telling the truth? Might some of the men have felt pressure to tell the researcher they would welcome the pregnancy simply because they thought it was what they were supposed to say? I wonder if the results might have been less pronounced if they had been responding anonymously via electronic means rather than in person.

  52. leedevious
    March 2, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    @Irene M

    I agree with you a lot. A lot of it probably is privilege. Guys have the privilege of not having to think of all the downsides. (Anecdote Time) I have a friend who is 20 and had a 16 year old girlfriend. They had a pregnancy scare. She was terrified and he was freaking delighted. He thought it meant she wouldn’t dump him. When I grilled him about it, he clearly wasn’t anticipating any of the difficulties or responsibilities of raising a child. She would be shamed for being a pregnant teenager, and he would be mr. fertile manly man who passed down his seed. He would get raises because he has a family to support. She would struggle to finish high school, let alone get a degree.

    I was relieved when it turned out she wasn’t pregnant and she dumped his ass.

  53. ipens
    March 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I know it’s been mentioned above, but I can’t help but think the wording of the question contributes to some of this. I’d be more confident if I knew the researchers had included a definition of what they meant by pleased in the question stem, e.g., “By pleased, we mean that this would be seen as a positive life event that… yada yada yada.” Or, by qualifying the statement by asking how pleased they’d feel about it knowing that their partner is displeased. Just because a couple is trying to avoid pregnancy doesn’t mean that a male partner wouldn’t assume that his female partner would be “pleased” to some extent by the notion of a baby and respond in a socially desirable way – by also being “pleased” – especially given the oft repeated social construction of women as the willing, waiting vessels for offspring.

  54. March 2, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    An imperative to reproduce is a human social imperative. If animals (such as us) had an instinct telling us to reproduce there would be no need for all that expensive neural tissue that makes sex, for people who enjoy sex, so much fun. We wouldn’t have bodies that we bothered to find sexually attractive — such features are also resource-intensive and those who lacked them would, on average, enjoy an adaptive advantage since they could get by on less food in tough times. The tail displays of male peacocks are a famous example, but most sexual species have them including our own. We probably wouldn’t be as socially gregarious a species as we are. At least among large mammals, species that fuck often tend to hang out with each other more, and in larger groups.

    There would be no same-sex fucking among any animals, because the biological imperative would be for reproduction, not fucking. There’s a lot of same-sex fucking in the world. Bonobos and dolphins are particularly famous for it (and dolphins are known for cross-species fucking — including with humans where there is not any kind of reproduction going on), but it’s well known in agricultural circles that about fifteen percent of rams (sheep) will not mount ewes at all and will mount only other rams.

    The biological urge to have sex is an urge to have sex: that’s all. It’s not a drive to spread genes or perpetuate the species or anything like that. The key to Darwin’s theories of the mechanisms driving evolution is that his, unlike competing theories, required that organisms have no knowledge or consideration of the future. It’s a vital concept in biology. Losing track of it leads to anthropomorphism and sloppy work.

    Humans have an ability to consider the future. We have created social imperatives to reproduce. They are very strong. They are so ubiquitous that we do not think of them as social constructs at all. But they are.

    No one and nothing has a biological clock.

  55. March 2, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    “Young people who aren’t married and weren’t planning on having children are mooooooortified when the woman gets pregnant. ”

    Well I sure as hell wasn’t mooooooortified when I got pregnant when I wasn’t trying to get pregnant. I was also unmarried and living in desperate poverty at the time. So, really, don’t assume that all unmarried people are mooooortified by an unplanned pregnancy. Some of us are actually quite fine with it and despite all that I’ve been through as a result of that unplanned pregnancy, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  56. March 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    “So, really, don’t assume that all unmarried people are mooooortified by an unplanned pregnancy.”

    I should probably also point out the man who impregnated me wasn’t mooooortified either.

  57. Bagelsan
    March 2, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Why is it terrifying?

    Well, I was somewhat unnerved that so many guys were happy that there was something inside the bodies of their girlfriends that the girlfriends did not want there. That just creeps me all kinds of out. Seems like a pretty basic empathy fail: “Honey, is something growing inside you that you did not want growing there, and which could completely change (or end!) your life? Score! Im’ma be a daddy ’cause my sperm is hella manly!” *does the happy “I’ve proven my manhood on your body” dance*

  58. Bagelsan
    March 2, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    We have created social imperatives to reproduce. They are very strong. … No one and nothing has a biological clock.

    Yeah. We pretty much have sleep-wake cycles (there’s your biological clock!) and the mental “I-don’t-want-to-die-alone” imperative. It’s probably the latter that has a bigger impact on baby-making (at least, purposeful baby-making.)

  59. Caroline
    March 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    In regards to “toying with biology,” I would just like to point out womenz are not fertile all the time. There is a thing called the cycle, a women ovulates once during it and the egg lives for 6-12 (up to 24 hours); sperm can live for 3-5 days (rarely up to 7). If Mr. Biology wanted the women to get pregnant every time PIV sex happened, our reproductive organs would be a whole fuck of a lot different.

  60. Lizzie
    March 2, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Comrade Kevin I am definitely down with what you say about the IDEA of reproducing being somehow hot as hell. I don’t know why, but my husband told me he had imagined making a baby with me and it was the sexiest thing ever. I’d never thought about it so I tried imagining it next time, and he is right! It felt utterly complete and binding in a way that thinking it was just a standalone act did not. We do want children but not for 2, 3 years for reasons of financial readiness, but it is still for some reason, a deeply satisfying fantasy. It’s worth noting though that not only did neither of us ever think of it with any of our exes, until I met him then babies never crossed my mind except in a totally ephemeral ‘maybe, probably not, perhaps sometime in the future’ way – so in our minds perhaps it is mostly specific to having the right partner and feeling safe about our future togetherness.

  61. Lizzie
    March 2, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Bagelsan – you are surely right that “not dying alone” is a big factor in babymaking but I’d note that your other example, the “I want a good night’s sleep sometime in the next decade” factor, is a big one in NON-babymaking.

  62. james
    March 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    You’ve gone off on one here. You’re all you’re all arggh women are oppressed, boyfriends are evil impregnating gits, bastard patriarchy… so you’ve pounced on this, got the wrong end of the stick, and misinterpreted it.

    “April, the survey was specifically of couples who were actively trying to avoid pregnancy. Given that fact, yeah, I do think it’s a little screwed up for boyfriends to be happy that birth control attempts failed and their girlfriends are now pregnant when they didn’t want to be.”

    The survey wasn’t of couples who were actively trying to avoid pregnancy. That’s your first mistake, making stuff up that you want to be true. It was of individuals. This is where the ‘men are evil oppressive bastards’ interpretation falls apart – there’s no reason to assume that the girlfriends don’t want pregnancy, and that their boyfriends are gleefully revelling in their misery.

    Q1: Is it important for you to avoid pregnancy.
    Q2: If you found out that you [women]/ your partner [men] was pregnancy would you be miserable.

    Now obviously if your a woman and don’t want to be pregnant then you’re going to be pissed off that you’re pregnant. But if you don’t want your partner to be pregnant are you going to be pissed off if she gets pregnant? Well maybe not, it depends what she thinks and some of them won’t agree that it’s important to avoid pregnancy (particuarly the one’s that self select into pregnancy). They’re not comparable situations. Frankly, the surprise here is that men are so charitable and react so favourable. Would you want men to have extreme negative ‘she got pregnant to entrap me’ reactions?

  63. Lizzie
    March 2, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Actually my last post, where I called my husband a partner, just made me notice something. It says people were asked if they would be pleased if “you/your PARTNER” got pregnant.

    “Partner” is a loaded word. Partner is not someone you just fucked once up against a wall. It’s someone you are in an exclusive relationship with. Partner is someone you know and trust, that she didn’t quietly ditch the pills/he didn’t stick a pin in the diaphragm. A partnership is a mutually benefiical team that is taking on the world together. In other words they are self-selecting for committed men who are already in it for the long haul WITH THAT WOMAN. Of course a large chunk of them are therefore delighted or at least cool with it. ‘Partner’ makes the question about, “How OK would you be with it if you had a baby earlier than planned with the person you probably wanted to have a baby with at some point?”

    If they had asked men using “girlfriend” or “last or current sexual partner”, which I feel will cover a much wider range of less-strong or exclusive relationships, the question COULD mean the above, or it COULD mean, “How OK would you be to have a guaranteed lifetime of incredibly expensive, freedom-limiting, future-dating-pool-shrinking involvement with the last person in whom you put your penis?”

    Maybe they are testing the willingness of the willing when they should be testing the willingness of all?

  64. Irene M.
    March 2, 2010 at 6:01 pm


    Word. Also, good for her. I hope the man in question wises up soon.

    Women’s options when it comes to unplanned pregnancy is so much more limited than men’s it would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

    From our culture’s perspective, these are the options for unmarried women with unplanned pregnancy…

    Get an abortion = baby killing whore
    Have a visible disability & not get an abortion = selfish whore
    Be a young single mother = stupid drug addicted whore
    Be an older single mother = baby obsessed/man trapping whore
    Be a non-white single mother of any age = welfare abusing whore + age label
    Place child for adoption = reformed/properly punished whore or heartless whore depending on age/class/race and the bigot in question.
    Marry the dad in civil or non-Christian wedding = Godless whore
    Marry the dad in a typical Christian wedding = shameless whore
    Marry someone who isn’t the bio-dad = Super Slutty McWhore

    The landscape isn’t that much better for married women.

    Have an abortion w/spouse’s support = selfish irresponsible bitch
    Have an abortion w/o spouse’s support = man hating bitch
    Have 3+ kids and keep pregnancy = stupid baby obsessed cow or brainwashed cow if you are visibly religious
    Have 0-2 kids & unhappy with unplanned pregnancy = unnatural bitch
    be a stay at home mom = lazy bon-bon eating cow
    be a working mom = heartless bitch

    My, what wonderful choices us women have. No wonder so many of the surveyed women were unhappy with the idea of an unplanned pregnancy.

  65. The Flash
    March 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    @Lizzie… wow, excellent point. Lizzie for the win!

  66. Sheelzebub
    March 2, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Kannichizero–seconded. I have sex for the orgasm and the pleasure. Sex is divorced from childbearing–at least in our minds and the minds of species. It’s purely for pleasure, an urge. If it animals ONLY had sex for reproduction, there would be no masturbation, homosexuality or bisexuality, or oral sex. And there’s plenty of all that across species.

  67. Lizzie
    March 2, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Irene M – don’t forget:
    Married, have 0-2 kids and happy with unplanned pregnancy = feckless bimbo who is only not-screwed because of undeserved good luck, and is probably lying about the unplanned bit

  68. Sailorman
    March 2, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Bagelsan 3.2.2010 at 5:02 pm
    I was somewhat unnerved that so many guys were happy that there was something inside the bodies of their girlfriends that the girlfriends did not want there. That just creeps me all kinds of out.

    It shouldn’t. It is brutally controlling to expect someone to modify their own feelings to adapt to their partner.

    It’s not as if my wife is expected to be happy about everything I want, and it’s not as if I’m expected to be happy about everything she wants. Because, you know, we’re different people, and even though we love each other we sometimes want different things. It doesn’t mean we actually do everything we want, of course–I make compromises all the time and so does she–but our feelings are our own.

    I would think it was VERY creepy to expect that my wife should never feel happy about something that distressed me. The fact that she’s her own person with her own set of feelings? Not creepy at all.

    Seriously, step back for a moment. Shades of “can women rape?” here for a moment: Can y’all even picture maintaining the “women should not feel happy if something happened which they want, but their partner does not want” meme? Doesn’t it sound utterly ridiculous? let’s not be so quick to apply that to men, either.

    • March 2, 2010 at 7:51 pm

      Can y’all even picture maintaining the “women should not feel happy if something happened which they want, but their partner does not want” meme? Doesn’t it sound utterly ridiculous? let’s not be so quick to apply that to men, either.

      Jesus Christ. Can we remind everyone that we’re not talking about your favorite baseball team winning a game when the other team was your partner’s favorite? We’re talking about something bad happening to your partner’s body. Okay? If you do not want to be pregnant, the idea of being pregnant is terrifying (or at least it can be). Worst case, it’s a crisis. Best case, it’s a big ass hassle. And in all cases, it’s happening primarily to the person who is pregnant. We’re not talking about a neutral thing happening about which one party is happy and the other isn’t. We’re talking about one party being happy that something bad happened to the other person.

      So can I see us saying “women should not feel happy about their male partners having unwanted things happen to their bodies” or “women should not feel happy about their male partners having to seek out uncomfortable and sometimes rather upsetting medical treatment that they’d hoped to never need”? UM, YES. At least, I should certainly hope so. Because those sound like really disturbing, scary things to be happy about happening to someone you’re supposed to care for.

  69. Mama Mia
    March 2, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    This dovetails in an interesting way with that recent study that found that men are more likely than women to sabotage birth control.

    As mentioned above, I think it also dovetails in an interesting way with the homicide of pregnant women stats.

    I would think that before a pregnancy actually occurs, it is very abstract for many men, particularly young men. Many men want to be a father eventually, so having an abstract “baby” is a positive thing, even to the point of sabotage. But once the pregnancy is very visible and the expectations start becoming real (doctor’s bills, needing to start limiting certain freedoms, things like that), then a baby becomes a more concrete reality, hence the increased risk of homicide.

    For many women, even an abstract “baby” represents immediate and obvious limitations on their lives.

  70. akeeyu
    March 2, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Goodness, and to think that for a minute I was worried that the concern trolls wouldn’t show up to trot out their EvPsych.

    Irene M, don’t forget (married or single):
    Have children later in life = selfish bitch
    More enthusiastic than your partner about having kids someday = manipulative condom-slashing man trapping bitch
    Infertile = desperate babysnatching hag

  71. March 2, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    “‘Partner’ makes the question about, “How OK would you be with it if you had a baby earlier than planned with the person you probably wanted to have a baby with at some point?””


    I agree that partner is a loaded term which is exactly why I don’t think you can draw this conclusion. I use the word partner to refer to people I have sex with but am not in an actual relationship with all the time. For me, and other people I know, the word partner can apply to an exclusive relationship, or what other people might call a “fuck buddy”.

  72. March 2, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    “Seriously, step back for a moment. Shades of “can women rape?” here for a moment: Can y’all even picture maintaining the “women should not feel happy if something happened which they want, but their partner does not want” meme? Doesn’t it sound utterly ridiculous? let’s not be so quick to apply that to men, either.”

    No, it doesn’t sound utterly ridiculous. And yes, I could and would apply it in reversed gender situations. Taking pleasure in someone else’s misery and discomfort is disturbing. Particularly when that person is someone you’re supposed to care about.

  73. Irene M.
    March 2, 2010 at 8:31 pm


    Ah, yes, how could I forget the “must be sabotaging birth control” bitch? I also forgot to list the myriad of race, age, and class related labels for married women but, *spoiler alert*, they all involve heavy judging.

  74. March 2, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Shades of “can women rape?” here for a moment.

    Oh fuck no. Do not even start that shit here please.

  75. Henry
    March 2, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    @kanin – I beg to differ, there is an instinct to reproduce. All those social conventions you speak of are ways of differentiating mates of different quality.

    Look up why women like men with big hands, or why men, the world over (and this survey cut across all societies) prefer women w/ 0.7 waist to hip ratios – be they large women or petite (that ratio results in less complications during natural childbirth). And the hands thing – well lots of anthropologists attribute it to stronger warriors/hunters being more desirable mates (which are supposedly not needed anymore in most western societies) – nor is the need for women who can have easier childbirth existent anymore – we have C-sections now – but the preference still exists. So I am not shocked that some men would answer a survey with: yes I would be glad if we had an unplanned pregnancy. Whether this is a good thing for modern society or not is another matter (it may in fact be since if the woman does choose to have the child – he might be more inclined to not abandon his half of the responsibilities – but this is just a hypothesis – obtainign a correlation to fatherhood involvement by this group of men would be interesting if it could be done).

    As for homosexuality – it has been recognized as a means of population control (at least in a pre-birth control societies).

  76. Athenia
    March 2, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    @Henry, actually, homosexuality probably ensures the survival of relatives…it’s kinda like grandmas and menopause. Family member doesn’t reproduce = more investing in relatives’ kids.

  77. Athenia
    March 2, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    The only guys I know who would be happy with a BC failure are my married guy friends–unfortunately the guys in this study are unmarried…which seems counterintuative to me.

  78. March 2, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    “As for homosexuality – it has been recognized as a means of population control (at least in a pre-birth control societies).”

    My Goddess. You evo-psych. dudes can manipulate anything to suit your b.s. biological theories. While I’m not a lesbian, I am bi. I’m really quite sure that my desire to have sex with women has nothing to do with population control. I like to have sex with women because I find them attractive and having sex with them feels good. This is also exactly why I like to have sex with men. I’ve also had my tubes tied yet I still like to have sex. Sometimes, I even like to have sex that doesn’t involve having a penis in my vagina.

    Who knew right? Having sex just because it feels good. The mind surely boggles. At least the evo-psych. one does.

  79. March 2, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Jill (& others who’ve said similar things)-

    yeah, I do think it’s a little screwed up for boyfriends to be happy that birth control attempts failed and their girlfriends are now pregnant when they didn’t want to be.

    I was just thinking of “happy about unintended potential kid that I want,” not necessarily “girlfriend being pregnant.” Many guys do actually think of a pregnancy that they helped create as a potential child, and not just something that the mother goes through all on her own. My partner was thrilled with our unintended pregnancy. I wasn’t, so ultimately, I had an abortion. Because he also understood that it was ultimately my body, his focus shifted to me being pregnant and how I felt about that (luckily for me). He’s an example of what I was referring to in my initial comment. Guys who are happy that their partners are going through with an unwanted pregnancy (if they were) wasn’t on my mind when I said that.

  80. March 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    @Henry – Nope, you’d be wrong. You, like many people, keep forgetting that natural selection does not take the future into consideration at all. There is only and ever now. There can’t be an instinct to perpetuate the species; the concept is too abstract to have any meaning. There can’t be an instinct to create successive generations (which is what an instinct to reproduce would be); instincts don’t plan that far ahead. (Squirrels don’t cache nuts because they’re planning for winter; they cache nuts because something in squirrel behavior, whether it’s learned or innate, tells them to cache nuts.)

    And again: If there was an instinct specifically to reproduce as opposed to an instinct to fuck, huge chunks of animal (we are animals, so human also) behavior would be very different. Some people find the qualities you name attractive because gosh! We find each other attractive. (And some of y’all just like to make up shit. Big hands mean better warriors? Please.) We find many things about each other attractive. Not just big hands and 0.7 waist-to-hip ratios. It’s really just about fucking. It’s not about judging reproductive fitness; that’s an abstraction that got added later. By straight cis white men, who were certain that they represented the pinnacle of reproductive fitness.

    Do brush up on primate behavior and evolutionary biology — proper evolutionary biology, not that evo psych stuff — before you get into this, won’t you?

  81. March 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    What kaninchenzero and Caroline said. Reproduction is a function of sex, not a purpose; if the purpose of sex were only to reproduce, there would be no other conclusion than that it was horrifically inefficient.

    Animals go into heat – that is when they are fertile, so that is when they become interested in sex. But people are interested in sex even during low-fertility points in a cycle.

  82. latinist
    March 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    The Flash got at this a little before, but I think we need to think about the different things those 50% of men and 20% of women (and let’s bear in mind that it’s not 100-0 here) might really mean when they say they’d be happy:

    1. First of all, responsible men (and maybe to some extent women) might have reason to lie to themselves and their partners about their likely reactions. If you’re saying to yourself and your partner, “Jesus, if she/you got pregnant I’d be devastated,” you’re really setting up an unpleasant situation: if she does accidentally get pregnant, she may be less willing to tell you, and it’ll be harder to put on a brave face about it. So you take a slightly incoherent position of “I don’t want you to get pregnant, but if you do, I’ll be inexplicably happy and excited to take on my responsibilities as a father.”

    2. Remember that there are more possibilities than simple pregnancy/lack of pregnancy. A lot of people probably think, “I want to have a kid in [e.g.] five years, but not earlier.” If that’s what you want, you face four possible outcomes: (a) it goes according to plan, (b) you have a kid earlier than planned, (c) you have a kid but it takes longer than planned, and (d) you never manage to have a kid. When you accidentally get/ make your partner pregnant, you miss your chance for (a), your preferred outcome, so you’re sad about that — but at the same time, you may be relieved that you’ve definitely avoided (c) and especially (d), so you can be a little happy about that. Pretty straightforward, really.

    3. Saying “I would be happy” isn’t the same as saying “it would be good.” Most people have probably heard a lot of stories from people who had kids (especially when they wanted to) who report feeling a powerful rush of joy on finding out about the pregnancy. So a lot of respondents may be thinking, “Well, from what I hear, when people find out they’re having a kid, they become suddenly, irrationally happy. So I guess that might happen to me too, even though I don’t now think that I want a kid.”

    Of course, of these three, only explanation one obviously goes to the reasons men would answer this way more than women. But I think considering the different things people might mean helps make some sense of the survey.

  83. Lizzie
    March 2, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    The Flash – thank you very much!

    Irene M – you gotta love this equal world we live in. (Of course a lot of these horrible labels are ones women put on each other, to our shame).

    Faith – you are quite right partner can also mean all the things you say, and probably other things to other people too. I am sorry if I dismissed others’ experience or right to define their own relationships. I meant that people most likely to see the questioner’s phrasing as having referred to their type of relationship (whether because monogamous and exclusive is THEIR idea of a ‘partner’ or because they think that is the SURVEY’S idea of a partner – because the questioner offered no qualifiers such as “most recent partner” or “one of your current partners”) are mostly likely to say they are happy about a pregnancy.

  84. Lizzie
    March 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    latinist – all great points. I have a very dear male friend who got his gf pregnant. He was 18, she was 17. He wanted nothing more for her to have an abortion but he told her he was totally OK with her having the baby – because he did not want to be that guy, the deadbeat whose gf aborted a pregnancy she wanted to take to term because he abandoned her. He not only promised financial support as far as possible but also to continue their relationship and that even if the relationship failed one day, he would always be there as a fully involved dad. His parents even said he and the gf could live with them rent free to help her with things like still going to college if she had the baby. But quietly he prayed she would have an abortion. She did, under what he later suspected was parental pressure, which he did not understand how to help shield her from until too late. He is very glad he is not the father of a child with this woman, but he would rather be that – knowing that he’d almost certainly love the child if it now existed – than be a monster who pushed a woman into the wrong decision for her.

  85. The Flash
    March 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Aha, Latinist, great points, and just made me think of another one. Not being a woman, I can’t speak to whether this disparity tends to be on women’s minds, but it does occur to me that my window for finding a partner with whom to have a kid/kids is, unless I become a mega multi millionaire (because women of childbearing age tend not to build families with not-rich guys in their late 40s and beyond), probably just the next fifteenish years or so. For a woman, if she can’t find a partner, she *can* just have a kid on her own. I can’t. That may be playing into this, too… It’s relief from a fear of never having kids, so, a variation of Latinist’s item #2. Male inability to bear children, for the win! (Because today has been brought to you by “[X] for the win” day)

  86. March 2, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    And the hands thing – well lots of anthropologists attribute it to stronger warriors/hunters being more desirable mates

    Huh. And all this time I thought it was because how delicious thick fingers feel during sex for purely sexual purposes. Learn something new every day, I guess.

  87. Haley K
    March 2, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Wow. This is incredibly counter-intuitive for me, as an 18 year old woman in a relationship with a 20 year old man. We most definitely do NOT want me to become pregnant, and if the birth control failed, we would probably split the cost of the abortion.

    When my boyfriend had to write an essay about abortion for philosophy, I helped him and we were able to have a really good discussion. He’s avidly pro-choice and he is very aware of how the pregnancy would affect me verses him, (especially since I have health issues and would have to go off my meds if I became pregnant). I simply can’t imagine him being happy about me getting pregnant accidentally. I’ll ask him.

  88. March 2, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    [N]or is the need for women who can have easier childbirth existent anymore – we have C-sections now – but the preference still exists.

    This is an appallingly ignorant and misogynist thing to say. It is like fractally wrong; look at it in smaller bits and it’s still every bit as wrong as the whole. I can’t even.

  89. The Flash
    March 3, 2010 at 12:29 am

    These evolutionary arguments are absurd and should be ignored– engaging them just keeps it flowing. First of all, the genes that impact these things manifest differently in men and women, and homosexuality is a good example: there’s evidence now that the gene for male homosexuality is linked to, or is, a gene that facilitates female fertility, presumably by heightening attraction to men. The evolutionary implications of these things are myriad, and evolutionary psyche is an exercise in armchair stereotyping, functionalism and tautology. Finally, these things are much more socialized than evolutionary psychotics will ever admit– for example, the shifts in dominant society’s preference for fat men or athletic men, for fat women or thin women (in fiddler on the roof! “like a proper double-chinned wife”). If something can serve as the explanation for any outcome, then it’s useless, because it indicates nothing. It’s not even descriptive.

  90. Aaron
    March 3, 2010 at 12:41 am

    As a straight man, I have to say, I would probably have to respond “pleased” just based on how the question is worded. I wouldn’t be upset (in an oh shit oh shit kind of way), and I wouldn’t really be pleased (oh hooray, a baby!) but I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable saying “don’t care”! My response would be something more like “concerned,” especially depending on how my S.O. reacts. But the only one of those five options I’d feel comfortable picking would be “a little pleased.”

  91. Bagelsan
    March 3, 2010 at 12:50 am

    Yeah, the evo-psych here is cracking me up. :p

    If an allele is perpetuated in the next generation it is a “successful” allele (if you can even use that term.) If the frequency of that allele increases from one generation to the next it is being selected for and that’s evolution. That’s it. That’s all there is to it — no grand racial master plan or crafty plot to get the hottest women knocked up or anything. Boring, yeah, compared to the sillly ideas the evo-psych people spout? If you don’t have some special sexy purpose, if Mother Nature has not lovingly crafted your particular manly genitals, the universe just seems so uncaring, doesn’t it?

    Allelic frequency. If you have an allele that turns you purple and by chance more of your children survive than anyone else’s, and those kids get the purple allele, the purple allelic frequency has gone up and humanity is now evolving to be purpler. :D

  92. March 3, 2010 at 2:05 am

    While I certainly wouldn’t have expected any of my pre-husband partners to be pleased at the prospect of an unplanned pregnancy, count me among those who considers the question to be worded such that it’s unlikely the 40% or so of men who were saying they were “pleased,” really meant “thrilled to death that my partner has something happening in her body that she absolutely hates.”

  93. southern students for choice-athens
    March 3, 2010 at 3:35 am

    So men tend to respond more than women that they are “a little pleased” or “very pleased” by the …what…the National Campaign’s survey “The Fog Zone” isn’t really clear on what they’re measuring… the “prospect” of an unintended pregnancy … the “proof of fertility/potency” that comes with pregnancy … or maybe the “parental bond” which so many people want to establish at some point in their life. It’s not at all clear what the survey means to evoke by asking subjects to measure on a five-point scale how they would feel if they found out their partner was pregnant.

    This could mean so many things it’s hard to say if it’s even good or bad (for the woman) if a man feels “a little pleased” or “very pleased”. It could mean he’s impressed that he was able to simply get a woman pregnant, and intends to go out and impregnate another woman, and then another, and another, with no intention or means to support them financially, psychologically, etc. Or it could mean he wants to be supportive, and feels that being optimistic and having an overall positive attitude about the situation goes along with being supportive.

    What would it mean after all if he said he was “very upset” or “a little upset” about an unintended pregnancy? He might think that feeling the former would be shirking his responsibilities, and as far as “a little upset” goes, he might well feel “a little upset” and pleased all at the same time, but if the pleased feeling predominates and all he can do is pick one answer, he might be inclined to say he’s pleased.

    If you can stand listening to it, the National Campaign released a podcast when the “Fog Zone” report was released mid-December, and it gives a good overview of the issues of concern to the National Campaign:

    In the “Fog Zone” survey there’s numerous examples of deeply held beliefs in myths about contraception and pregnancy both on the part of young men and young women, and while the survey can be critiqued in various ways (like how the word “abortion” is mentioned exactly twice [two times, 2x, dos veces] in this supposedly comprehensive study, and apparently not at all in any of the questions asked) it does give some insight into the depth of the problem facing people who want young people to make better informed choices and have healthier relationships.

    Maybe a better way to address this problem is not so much to focus on closing the gender gap between men’s and women’s attitudes towards unintended pregnancy — because it’s easy to imagine closing that gap in some survey without overall improving the survey subjects’ knowledge and behavior — maybe a better way is simply to try to identify the most effective ways to address this sort of irrational behavior and at times magical thinking.

    The easy answers are better sex education and giving strong messages especially to men that they need to communicate with their partner and be supportive of the woman’s choice of whether or not to get pregnant and what she wants to do about it if pregnancy occurs. But sex education in schools, especially typical high schools probably can’t go into much into depth into various contraception methods due to time and budget constraints if nothing else. Educating young people on how various contraceptive methods may affect one’s health and relationships, for example, is one essential and relatively noncontroversial topic which would need to be addressed.

    One can find or create a high school curriculum that would do so, but even if that was available and politically feasible to implement in, say, some high schools, would that be more effective than significantly increasing funding and overall awareness of and access to reproductive health providers in the community who would probably do a better job of addressing these issues than any teacher in a classroom setting?

    The latter issue though – improving access in the community instead of just changing a school curriculum — isn’t talked about as much as sex education policy, for reasons we’ve given before: it would probably cost more to better subsidize and overall improve access to health care services in a community than it would for a annual revision of some sex ed curriculum to include a little more on contraception, and the implicit goal of sex education isn’t to help young people better plan when and if they have children and to have better sex lives, it’s to save money on welfare and other public expenditures associated with poor people having babies.

    Also, it seems harder to get doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to deliver a moralistic abstinence-focused message than it is to get teachers to do so. Oh, and a patient in a doctor’s office isn’t quite as captive as a student is who may not have much choice but to sit through a sex ed module in school, and if a patient has the means to choose among a variety of providers they probably won’t choose one who will guilt-trip them if they want to have sex. Political opinions seem to favor strongly abstinence-focused messages in public high schools, especially to children of middle- and lower-class parents, even if the curriculum is arguably “comprehensive” in mentioning contraception in a few nonderogatory words.

    Advocating improved access to reproductive health providers is more difficult than advocating comprehensive sex ed, but it’s a lot easier than dealing with an unintended pregnancy. It would help if people who are trying to address issues like covered in “The Fog Zone” would keep that in mind.

  94. Lorelei
    March 3, 2010 at 3:55 am

    this is a little off-topic, but in what industries do men tend to get promotions because they’re ‘raising a family’ and whatever? i’m SURE it happens, this isn’t a snarky comment! and is it an effect that wears off (that is, do you only get raises when you FIRST have the kid and then everyone gets over it, or does an employer always tend to look more kindly on you because they know you are a dude with a kid?)? i am asking only because neither of these scenarios ever happened for my fiance in the hospitality industry, and it’d be nice to know where he might have this advantage and work towards getting him there, lol.

  95. Lorelei
    March 3, 2010 at 3:58 am

    and word, Haley K, this survey also comes off as funny to me LOL. i would react SO badly to being pregnant right now — they’d honestly have to put me in a psychward to deal with the anxiety/dissociation i’d experience from it — and STILL my fiance would be the more unhappy party, lmao…

  96. SeanH
    March 3, 2010 at 5:26 am

    Speaking for me, if I imagine this scenario (we’re using birth control, then it turns out she’s pregnant), none of those options (“pleased”, “displeased”, “don’t care”) work for me at all.

    My first thought is, I need to be supportive here. It’s her decision what to do, and it’s her life it’s going to affect the most. I need to stand by her whatever decision she makes, and be there to help raise the child if that’s what she wants. If she wants abortion, or adoption, then I’m going to support that decision and give her whatever help she needs to go through with it.

    None of the options I’ve been given fit my reaction. “Pleased” sounds like I’m happy her life is being messed around. “Displeased” sounds like I’m pissed off at her. “Don’t care” is just awful (what, I DON’T CARE about massive changes to her body and her life? I’m her boyfriend, of course I care!). It’s a bullshit question, frankly – who the hell can sum up their reaction to something like this on a pleased/displeased axis?

  97. March 3, 2010 at 5:29 am

    Lizzie: “Partner” is a loaded word. Partner is not someone you just fucked once up against a wall. It’s someone you are in an exclusive relationship with.

    Small quibble, just wanted to point out that long-term, committed relationship doesn’t necessarily imply exclusive. I know two couples who are in long-term, committed relationships (One couple is engaged and raising a kid together) but are open. Actually, the woman in one partnership is sleeping with the man in the other :P

    Henry: Look up why women like men with big hands
    Anecdote: my partner has tiny, baby-soft hands. It’s one of the things I love about Him. Of course, being pan, I also like screwing people who won’t get me pregnant.

    nor is the need for women who can have easier childbirth existent anymore – we have C-sections now
    Um… no. Really, no. Just no.

  98. Sheelzebub
    March 3, 2010 at 8:46 am


  99. [Private]
    March 3, 2010 at 8:57 am

    When my then-boyfriend and I discussed the possibility that I might get pregnant, we both agreed that neither of us wanted a baby and that it would be foolish to pretend otherwise.

    Then I got pregnant.

    And while I was freaking the fuck out because omg! pregnant what am I going to do I’m 20 years old! *flail* He was picking out baby names and picturing how awesome it would be to be a dad.

    We… didn’t work out in the long term.

  100. preying mantis
    March 3, 2010 at 9:09 am

    “this is a little off-topic, but in what industries do men tend to get promotions because they’re ‘raising a family’ and whatever?”

    It’s not an “Oh, you’re a plumber with two kids? Raise for you, then.” thing. It’s a general gendered response in the workforce to parents. Mothers tends to get the stink-eye every time they take sick leave because women don’t just get the flu like everybody else once they’re spawned–bosses and coworkers just know that she’s taking more than anybody else would because she’s got kids. Whereas men who are supporting their children tend to be seen as more responsible, more grounded, etc., and are viewed as better employees. There is also an inclination to be more generous toward, or view requests for raises as more reasonable coming from, men with children.

    Hell, one of the women class-action-suing Walmart for wage and promotion discrimation joined the suit after being flat-out told by her boss that a male co-worker who should have been on parity but was making significantly more needed more because, you know, family to support. When the woman protested that she was the sole wage-earner in a household with three or four kids, which the boss already knew, she got blabbity-blabbity-blooed.

    It’s hardly uncommon for men to get bonus Penis Points for doing what women are expected to do to the point where it disappears into the background. Providing materially for their children is one of those times.

  101. Lorelei
    March 3, 2010 at 9:27 am

    preying mantis,

    word, i understand. i had just been pondering whether some industries are more apt to act this way, or if it was a general sort of thing. i see that it’s general. thank you!! :)

  102. preying mantis
    March 3, 2010 at 9:42 am

    You are probably more likely to see it come out stronger in industries/workplaces that have retained more gender-essentialist bullshit. Of course, the downside to trying to game that system is that fathers who want to be more involved in their children’s lives than the “dad babysits” model will also be more likely to get flak about trying to schedule around doctor’s appointments or household demands, because, y’know, that’s what wives are for or that’s mom-stuff.

  103. The Flash
    March 3, 2010 at 11:16 am

    @ Preying Mantis:

    On the one hand, it’s true that parenthood comes with its own set of distractions from work taking over your life. On the other hand, as some of my married-for-just-over-a-year male friends have discovered, being married also suspends some of your independence, and can foster a newfound sense of investment in your work, because your work is the thing that is yours and not your spouse’s. Single guys (and women) have to date, feel like work is the thing that takes away from their individual (and I’me schewing the word “personal” on purpose) lives and free agency, and have less invested in staying at their jobs. Married/bekidded workers have mouths to feed, have less individual space in their personal lives to feel the need to defend (because, after all, work is a good excuse to duck household responsibilities; feeling like you’re losing your sense of self is, frankly, not, and the extra time you seize in your life is taken up by contribution to the common cause of family), and don’t have dating lives to distract them (family obligations can be divided up with spouses, grandparents, friends with or without children; a dating life is your responsibility, and yours alone). And, as you (preying) have noted, the “he/she’s got a family to support” theory of career advancement tends to be in more traditional workplaces, where there’s also greater expectation of the kinds of family obligations that intervene in workplace commitment.

    Then there’s Alec Baldwin’s line from The Departed: “Marriage is an important part of getting ahead: lets people know you’re not a homo; married guy seems more stable; people see the ring, they think at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch; ladies see the ring, they know immediately you must have some cash or your cock must work. ” Having kids is kind of the same.

    But maybe (alec baldwin aside) this isn’t such a bad thing. women/families with kids have it HARD. Inasmuch as we want people to have children, to keep America strong, to make sure the next generation isn’t entirely derived from asshole fundamentalists with nine kids, it makes sense to give people with children a little bit of an edge.

  104. snobographer
    March 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    It would be interesting to ask the men why they answered the way they did. Considering how many guys knock up their girlfriends and ditch them, my guess is the weird territorial thing, and/or they’re happy their sperm worked. Masculinity links fertility with virility and sex with conquest, so there you go.

  105. Little Sara
    March 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm


    If you don’t like/follow the religion that is almost viewed as a theocracy in America, don’t stay there. At least I wouldn’t.

    I live in Canada, and that “unmarried = godless” doesn’t exist with anyone I know or have known, ever.

    My aunt who is now 50, had 3 children in a 20 years partnership, never married and I never ever saw her put down because of it.

    Quebec is supposedly primarily Catholic…but in practice, we celebrate Easter with chocolate, Christmas with gifts and that’s pretty much how devoted we are to religion. No church-going, no shaming people, no finding that homosexuality is evil because of ancient testament stupidity. And the Pope, well he’s a buffoon paid a very high pay for looking stupid and saying stupid things that we ignore in our opinion.

    Wether one marries or not. Wether on aborts, keeps it or gives it in adoption, nothing will be held against you by society, nothing. If you kill the baby once born, that’s something else.

    And AFAIK, men are held to lower standards of childcare, but also regarded as universally incompetent unless they proved it marvelously that they were competent. So people are not shy to give unwanted advice to fathers, even if they do things right.

    If fathers just babysitting were seen as ‘very good’, then why are they seen with contempt in daycares if they deal with children themselves? They’re seen as not competent at all, even if they make it their career to take care of children.

  106. March 3, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Someone else may have said this, it’s not the position I held when faced with this situation, and the both parts to a greater or even-greater degree run contrary to rational expectations, but most human emotions do. That disclaimer being put out there, on with the show:

    Some of the men might have been pleased because your partner getting pregnant *while on birth control* would (in the man’s eyes) say something very positive about his virility that his sperm “overcame” the contraception.

    This emotional response might reinforce the human tendency to project intention onto everything and everything, possibly resulting in the feeling that “our kid/my kid/this kid” really wants to be born.

    I agree with the posters above that men aren’t supposed to openly want children before they’re a certain age, and probably are conflicted when they are with someone who definitely doesn’t want one/doesn’t want one NOW. They may rationally agree with the woman, emotionally cherish her freedom, and at the same time have a deep and abiding want for children and family – human emotions are complex.

    This is another reason why these surveys are misleading – we don’t experience one emotion at a time – we experience a melange of conflicting feelings, and only consciously are aware of the loudest of them – if we are paying attention to them at all.

    Personally I suspect that if you (whatever gender you happen to be) are with someone who is truly and deeply conflicted to the point of being unreliable when in deeply emotional situations (such as the pre-sex birth control dance, in whatever form y’all take it), then you need to run like hell.

    I’m cynical that way.

  107. March 3, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    “If you don’t like/follow the religion that is almost viewed as a theocracy in America, don’t stay there. At least I wouldn’t.”

    You’re making the assumption that all people can just up and leave their current homes. That’s a terribly privileged and, to be perfectly blunt, ignorant point of view. Plus, there are those who would rather stay and try to change that overwhelming viewpoint.

    “If fathers just babysitting were seen as ‘very good’, then why are they seen with contempt in daycares if they deal with children themselves?”

    Men who “babysit” their -own- children are viewed as just super awesome and cool for caring enough to even contribute to the child care at all. I’m pretty sure that was the point of the above comment about men who take care of their children being viewed as gods.

  108. March 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I’ve written about this a bit before, starting with the story of my high school girlfriend’s pregnancy and our ambivalence about what had happened. Strange stuff.

  109. kb
    March 3, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    It’s funny, when I talked to my boyfriend about this, he did basically say, “well I think we could make it work, don’t you?” which was not the response I would have expected from him – he’s still in college, and I am in the process of launching my career. We don’t even live together!

    He just wants to have kids someday, and while I think his attitude is somewhat shaped by male privilege (“You could give up working for a while right?”) and also by the fact that we live in Europe (“We’d get a subsidized apartment and money for childcare!”) he also simply is more invested in the idea of family and children than I am.

    To me this just points to the fact that we talk about wanting to settle down and wanting children in far-too-gendered terms. But then, I already knew that – my mom’s always been clear about the fact that my dad was the one who desperately wanted kids, and that it took 7 years to convince her to start a family.

  110. Bagelsan
    March 3, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    *shrug* Bits of the US are already pretty godless — you can stay in the country and avoid the theocracy somewhat. But that’s just a temporary solution until the coasts secede and go join Canada, obvs. :D

  111. Bunny
    March 3, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    People know when they intend on getting pregnant-it is called unprotected sex.
    Did anyone ever consider that the reason the mother &/or the father would be happy about the baby is that they love the baby/fetus/zygote?/?/?
    What about the instinct to protect and fight for your offspring’s life?
    Personally my child was born on my partner and I’s 9 year anniversary. We were not married at the time.
    I chose to stop taking birth control after 6 years of being on the pill, previously always using condoms, diaphragm or ‘the shot’–> after so long I really got sick of taking a prescription that was not intended by nature.
    I told my partner (husband) that I was not taking my BC anymore and we had condoms in the house, he chose to have unprotected sex w/ me on 2 occasions—I got pregnant the day or the day after I stopped taking the pill.
    When I found out I was PG I painted him a sign ‘Surprise I’m knocked up with your Lovechild’ and planned a dinner to inform.
    I picked him up from work-he had been gone for a few days- we stopped at the post office and was reading his magazines on the 5 min drive home. I left dinner simmering and it was ready when we got home. I made my way into the kitchen where you could see my sign on the table. He pointed out something in his magazine to me and I pointed to the sign (& 2 positive PG tests) and said ‘Look at this!’
    You should have seen his face it was pure shock he started talking so fast.
    Then of course he had to show me he was happy about it.
    He was not expecting this but it really only takes just once and you are a parent.
    If I had gotten pregnant 5 or 6 years ago I know I still would have loved and protected my baby. Life would have been harder and sacrificing your youth to be a parent is the whole reason why I was so serious about having 100% protected sex for so long.
    Even though we did not intend to get pregnant that is what we did because no precautions were taken so in fact we tried.

  112. March 3, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Not quite, Bagelsan. :)

    Texas is a coastal state. O how it is not godless here. I don’t know if it’s actually enforceable under the federal constitution but the state constitution bars atheists from holding public office. An out atheist would never get elected to anything in Texas in the first place. But the prohibition applies to any government job, elected or not.

    The Texas Constitution | Article 1 – BILL OF RIGHTS | Section 4 – RELIGIOUS TESTS
    No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.

    Naw, that’s not a religious test.

  113. poppy
    March 4, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    My husband and I consciously decided to start children when we were 18, 19 and 20. He was the first to embrace the idea, and I can tell you why: he loves children. He is a romantic. He is idealistic. He wanted to be with me for the rest of my life. He wanted to have a family. He is not a stereotype, and these were his reasons. I am proud of his boldness, commitment, and stereotype-breaking– we now have three amazing girls.
    Yes, I was slower to come around to this idea at 17 years old, but at 18 I realized that it would be perfect for us. And it has been. We are in our early thirties now, very successful, professionally and as a family.

  114. The Flash
    March 4, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    @ Poppy:

    That’s conscious– intentional. This article is about when it’s unplanned.

  115. March 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Getting here late, but I had to comment on the “why aren’t people better with birth control” thing: I live in sub-Saharan Africa doing HIV/AIDS education. At this point, EVERYONE knows that condoms will prevent contracting HIV, and EVERYONE knows that this population is the most at-risk for HIV in the world; condoms are free and easy to get, and yet condom usage is still unbelievably low. I’m put in mind of a friend who surveyed a bunch of African schoolchildren on condom usage. She asked two key questions: “Will a condom prevent against contracting HIV?” and “Would you use a condom while having sex?” Overwhelming answer to question 1: Yes. Overwhelming answer to question 2: No.

    HIV is definitely a worse consequence than pregnancy, and yet people suck at using prophylactics for that, too. Turns out that sexuality is actually a hard force to control in any way, even for the purpose of saving your own life — pregnancy is a cakewalk in comparison.

    If you want to read more about this, I actually wrote an article about it!

    Also: Lance’s polio comment made me laugh for a good 2 minutes.

  116. Sarah
    March 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    A bit of non-stupid ev.psych: we actually do have a biological imperative to reproduce (as opposed to just have sex), and the proof is that there’s a market for sperm donors and egg donors and in-vitro fertilization. If people didn’t have a drive to reproduce, they’d either just adopt the kid, or not have one at all and thus have way more time and energy for sex. This is true for both gays and straights, singles and couples.

    Here’s the thing, though–the drive to reproduce and the drive to fuck are not really related to each other. I know for one that I’ve fucked plenty of guys I would NOT want to have a kid with under any circumstances…as well as plenty of girls, who I couldn’t have a kid with even if I wanted to.

Comments are closed.